Others Also Travel For Cut-price Treatment

Others Also Travel For Cut-price Treatment

‘Dental tourism’ is well known to a growing number of clinicians.  Some patients, possibly many, have undoubtably undergone successful and skilful procedures. These seldom make the news. Others, however, may present having endured botched or inappropriate work, disparagingly referred to in the media as ‘Turkey Teeth’.

Now a report by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies offers a valuable insight into the nature of the market across thirty one countries.

‘Oral health care in Europe: Financing, access and provision’ reveals that oral diseases are ‘one of the most prevalent conditions in Europe, affecting nearly half the European population.’ The report, summarised on laingbuissonnews.com, considered access, financing, dentist-to-population ratios, cover gaps, corporate dentistry and cross-border care.

In common with the UK, state provided dental services are limited in many European countries, with widespread imposition of patient charges and / or private treatment compared to other health services. There are variable access problems, with children invariably prioritised, and different states fund different treatments as part of their statutory provision.

One consequence of these factors is a continent-wide growth in private dentistry plus  dental tourism. In Romania and Croatia, data from 2018 and 2020 described the growth as ‘promising’.

The data also disclosed that patients taking advantage of dental tourism is a continent wide phenomenon, with geography a factor. France and Germany, for example, offer their citizens quality dental services but their geography, which borders other contries, facilitates cross border dental shopping.  

Not surprisingly, border areas are popular locations for dentists wishing, or able, to offer cut price dentistry. The border between the Czech Republic and Austria, crossed recently by the author of this article, is populated by practices cashing in on Viennese patients seeking to complete their treatment plans for a fraction of the prices charged in Austria’s capital.

Such is the potential offered by ‘dental tourists’ that dental professionals have moved from Eastern Europe to Germany, France and Norway to offer reduced cost dentistry. In Sweden, the report cited practices that only operate for three months a year because they are staffed by travelling dentists.

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